Posted on Aug. 11, 2014 (
Wow, I just met over 400 heroes! This week was the 23rd Annual Courage Classic, a 173-mile ride that raises money to support the Rotary Endowment for the Intervention and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma. It is an amazing event. This year there were 419 riders — heroes every one.
But wait. There are also hundreds of volunteers and many MultiCare staff who supported those riders in every possible way. There are several thousand donors who contributed to sponsor the riders. And we have dozens of extraordinary sponsors like the Rotary Clubs of Pierce County and the ride’s signature sponsor Alaska Airlines. Heroes all!
It’s impossible to calculate the good that will be achieved and lives positively impacted because of all these heroes.
Three days on a bicycle gives you plenty of time to think about what you are doing. And I learned more than just a few lessons, that’s for sure:
When those well-practiced and disciplined teams of 4 to 6 riders went blasting by me, close on each other’s wheels, I saw a graphic demonstration of how the leader’s job is to lower the resistance for those who follow.
As I was riding along by myself, so immersed in my own thoughts that I didn’t see or hear someone come up alongside me just to say hello, and I promptly steered my bike into the ditch, I learned that focus is a good thing, but you must also be aware of what’s going on around you.
I learned that misery loves company, and that at the toughest point, when everyone is working hard, if the difficulties are shared it creates an amazing collegial experience that can be profoundly joyous. It’s when you are a part of something bigger than yourself that you understand that it is a privilege.
From someone on the “Fat Tire” portion of the ride, I learned that you can never coast and that just when it looks like smooth sailing ahead it is important to continue pedaling.
I learned that taking breaks creates opportunities to gather resources (like peanut butter and jelly bagels and root beer floats) and strength for the journey ahead. And, after leaving one of the rest stops confident that the next section was downhill, only to discover that it was actually uphill, I learned that some things are more difficult than you perceive them to be.
I learned that at times there is nothing quite as important as a cheerleader who really believes in you and isn’t afraid to show it.
I learned that sometimes success comes just after the very hardest part.
I learned that a downhill grade where you can pick up speed may just indicate a steep and difficult climb ahead — and that it’s wise to use the easier, gravity-assisted times to build up capacity and momentum for the difficult times that are coming.
When people went blowing by me, I had to remember that it was a ride, not a race.
I learned that just because there is pain involved doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort.
Amazed by the depth of the planning and excellence of the execution, I learned that making something as big as the Courage Classic go off crisply well organized doesn’t happen by accident.
Just one more — I learned that great things happen when people come together around an important cause.
Thank you, Courage Classic Heroes. I’ve still got plenty to learn from you.
Bill Robertson, President and CEO
Bill Robertson has served as MultiCare's President and CEO since May 2014. He came from Adventist HealthCare, Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Prior to Adventist, Robertson served as CEO of Shawnee Mission Medical Center near Kansas City, Kansas. More stories by this author